Longtime Villanova basketball coach Rollie Massimino died Wednesday at the age of 82, and the sports world immediately responded with an outpouring of sympathy.
The legendary coach, who led his teams to more than 800 victories and earned the Villanova Wildcats an improbable NCAA national championship, had been battling lung cancer. He passed away in his Florida home.
“The Nova Nation has lost a legend and great leader,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said in a statement. “Coach’s love of family, community, and teamwork were evident in every game his teams ever played. All of us, as coaches and players, idolized Coach Mass. He inspired and impacted all of our lives. He never stopped being a cherished mentor and friend.”
Massimino was remembered on Twitter by his colleagues in the sports world. Other college basketball coaches took to the platform to share memories of competing against Massimino and send condolences to his family, including Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, University of Kentucky’s John Calipari and Saint Joseph University’s Phil Martelli.
“He’s like a father to me,” Ed Pinckney, who played on Massimino’s championship team, said in an interview with ESPN. “We talked about life, not basketball. I still talked to him all the time. My youngest son, Austin, played for him at Northwood.”
Massimino coached at Villanova for 19 seasons before leaving to replace Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV, where he spent two seasons. He would go on to serve as head coach at Cleveland State from 1996 to 2003, and most recently at Florida’s Keiser University.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary; his five children, Tom, Lee Ann, Michele, R.C. and Andrew; and his 17 grandchildren.
See some of the tributes to Massimino below:
— Villanova MBB (@NovaMBB) August 30, 2017
RIP to the beloved Rollie Massimino, 1985 NCAA Championship coach at Villanova, and basketball lifer. https://t.co/1GpxbE8b0M
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 30, 2017
Coach Patrick Ewing's statement on the passing of Rollie Massimino: pic.twitter.com/frSrF39LbJ
— Georgetown Hoops (@GeorgetownHoops) August 30, 2017
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) August 30, 2017
Hall of Fame coach and human being Rollie Massimino has passed away. A sad day for all bball fans. Prayers and thoughts are with his family.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) August 30, 2017
Rollie Massimino was a great coach and a basketball lifer! Always a challenge playing his BIG EAST teams. Condolences to the family.
— Jim Boeheim (@therealboeheim) August 30, 2017
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 30, 2017
— Phil Martelli (@PhilMartelli) August 30, 2017
Rollie Massimino passes / What a Man's MAN / tough / fair / motivator / flat out winner in Game of Life May he RIP! https://t.co/p70fboWqRI
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) August 31, 2017
Rollie Massimino'a 1985 Moment was the Shiniest of all. And to the end he remained a basketball lifer. https://t.co/HZPkDCKtjh
— Tim Layden (@ByTimLayden) August 30, 2017
Column: to the very end "Coach" wasn't just what Rollie Massimino was; it was WHO he was. https://t.co/uDk65D6Z6s
— Mike Vaccaro (@MikeVacc) August 30, 2017